Schedule to open Roof/Shutter automatically before sequence begins for OTA cooldown

I reckon a fantastic feature to add to SGP would be the option to automatically open the shutter at a cerain time before your sequence begins so the scope can cool down… for example I love hitting start sequence and I use the planning tool to start imaging when it’s dusk. I hit start, it cools down the camera cooler and waits until dark before it begins but the whole time my observatory roof is closed therefore making the scope cooldown time significantly longer once the roof is open when the sequence starts (slaving to telescope). If I am out of the house I don’t want to have to remote into my pc to open the observatory roof once the sun has gone down to allow the scope to start cooling.

Could you add in an option in planning tools to open the shutter/roof with a few different time settings:

  • Open on Sunset
  • Open once Sun elevation angle is below x degrees (eg my observatory is shaded when the sun reaches 8 degrees elevation)
  • Open at Time

Cheers, Mike

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Hi Mike,

Thanks for giving out some ideas! My observatory gets to be very hot, in fact the metal on the mount is too hot to touch.

I second the request!



I have an idea – you could buy an air conditioning unit!

I do a lot of tech support for the 20 remote observatories at the Stellar Skies dark sky site operation (100 miles NW of Austin, TX) and ALL our observatories have air conditioning units on timers that turn them on around noon and off around 7PM. These units are intended to protect the observatory electronics from high day time temperatures – especially in August in Texas. There is no intent to keep things cold in the observatory; just not hot.

The AC units are Pioneer Mini Splits which use about $15 / month in electricity and cost < $500.


Hi there, I have a wall unit for the warm room, but it exhausts the warm air into the telescope area.

Thanks for the idea,


Hi Charlie,

I seriously am looking at an aircon unit for my observatory don’t worry - I’m at 21 south latitude here in the tropics, I just gotta figure out what will be the best for me. Do you run a dehumidifier as well with the aircons? run them on dry mode? or just purely cool mode. I got 10kw of solar and a powerwall so power costs aren’t an issue during the day as we export most of our power generated. That mini split system by Pioneer looks pretty good, I just had a look though and it’s not yet sold here in Australia (damn). My observatory is 2.4m x 2.4m

Cheers, Mike


The “mini split” design of AC is sold by many companies. Mitsubishi is another big vendor of mini split AC units but they are more expensive than the Pioneer units. You are not trying to cool a large space but, then again, observatories are, typically, not well insulated. All our observatories have fully insulated walls and some have insulated roofs but there is still a lot of air flow through a roll off roof observatory. There are also a couple of the small “PierTech” observatories that don’t have any insulation at all but at 9’ x 9’, there is not much space to keep cool.

It is the efficiency of the mini split design that is appealing for observatory usage. The heat exchanger is outside of the observatory, so only cool air is pushed into the observatory. $15 / month here in Texas is a good deal to keep all that gear from frying.

A few of the observatories have dehumidifiers – mine does not. I personally don’t think they help all that much.


I think that would be a splendid idea!!

@weathermon, it looks like the topic of your post changed drastically from an SGP feature request to a hardware modification to your observatory.
Anyway, I second the request for SGP to be able to open the roof X minutes ahead of starting a sequence. It could do that by calling a script or for users with an observatory ASCOM driver, it could tell it to open the roof.

Hi there again,

I think, too, that it could be implemented in the “Slave settings” in the observatory section of the equipment manager. Add, just, another checkbox to open the roof 30 minutes before first target slew.

Clear Skies,


When I first moved to thje Blue Mountains outside Sydney my lttle observatory was cracking 50cC on hot days and I put my gear away (also the worst Bush Fires in 5,000 years all arouond me). The second season it was way too hot so my gear stayed inside for almost 6 months. Then I got some white 80% heat reflective paint , applied 4 under coats and 4 top coats and it went to 5 degrees below ambient. Two years later it is is still a few degrees below ambient (I have multiple wifi heat and humidity sensors in there). If it looks like ever geting over 40C then I would probably bring the gear in as it is not worth finding out when it costs more than a new car). This summer I added a WiFI controlled sprinker on the roof and that was good for another 2-4 degree temperature drop). My big problem is humidity and I use 2 WiFi controlled dehumidifiers; a 30W one just for NUC box and a 300W one that gets general humidity down from >90% to under 60% in less than 30 minutes. When its wet they run on a schedular (everything in there is wifi controlled). Problem solved. If I ever get a automated roof I would like the idea of scheduled opening and of course, closing on weather ‘events’.
My observatory is converted cheap pump shed just big enough for a Paramount MYT and a 127Is so not huge and my solution was an effective and cheap way to keep it dry and cool in there over a wide range of conditions. The Paint wasn’t cheap but made a HUGE difference.


Thanks for the observations! Mine is located in a semi arid environment, so it’s the sun that just beats down that causes the heat. No humidity, and temperature drop is significant when the sun goes down.

As my shed is built on metal light frame on top of level ground, there is a relatively cool area under the floor, at ground surface level. If I could get a small fan to pull that up and open a roof ridge vent, then by convection, it should cool a few degrees

Still, though, nothing compares to the huge drop in temperature when the roof is rolled back when the sun is behind the mountains.

Clear Skies,


I think that is a great idea Mike. I have exactly the same challenge.
My weather station measures light intensity and I generally have “very light” set as an unsafe condition. The main reason for that is so that if for some reason the end of session timing fails or was set incorrectly, the observatory will close automatically to prevent light from the morning Sun entering my observatory. I would need to disable that if I wanted to take advantage of such a feature.


I have the Interactive Astronomy roof automation system, and I spent a few minutes looking into the settings. I set it up to open 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise. It seems to be working.

In case one does not have this software or one chose to use instead, a SGP cool down roof open feature is important.

Clear Skies,


Considering that Nina and Voyager have this already, it’ll definitely be handy to have

Cheers, Mike

I’m working on adding this as part of the 4.4 beta that will start rolling out features soon.